Council starts High Court legal challenge to planning decision.

Two new housing developments in Gloucestershire have been given the go-ahead by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, following an Inspector’s report into the matter.

Tewkesbury Borough Council (TBC) had refused both the developments following local residents’ opposition, plus the fact that they were still discussing the strategy for local housing with neighbouring Cheltenham and Gloucester councils.

TBC are challenging the decision by making an application to the High Court under Section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Their grounds for the legal challenge include the fact that it is inconsistent with the Localism Act – the government’s policy of removing top-down planning and allowing planning decisions to be made at the local level by the communities – and the principles behind it.

One developer (Comparo Ltd) is planning to build 450 homes at Homelands Farm (between Bishop’s Cleeve and Gotherington) to include a new village community hall. The other developer (Welbeck Strategic Land) is to build 550 homes at Cleevelands (northwest of Bishop’s Cleeve). Cleevelands is to include homes for 30 retired people, a community hall, allotments and an open space leisure/play area.

Cllr Derek Davies, Lead Member for the Built Environment at Tewkesbury Borough Council, said: “The council is concerned that the government appears to be imposing decisions in an ad hoc way through the appeal process before decisions on the future development of the area have been made at a local level in accordance with the government’s localism agenda.”

He also said “While we fully support the need to provide housing to meet current and future needs, this should be through a plan-led process, and we are continuing to work with our partners at Cheltenham and Gloucester on a Joint Core Strategy that will aim to meet those needs on a properly planned local basis.”

They have been advised by a senior planning barrister that they have a strong case to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision.

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